Friday, 19 February 2010

JVT: Projected second third... for Groupama 3

Fred Le Peutrec. Image copyright Team Groupama.

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

Though Groupama 3 has paid a heavy price at the entry to the Southern Ocean, she should soon get paid dividends from her investment in the Indian front... The very straight trajectory announced as far as the longitude of Tasmania is particularly favourable, not solely for making up her deficit on the reference time, but above all amassing a fair bit of credit at the beginning of the Pacific.

Just a few weeks from the tax declaration, Franck Cammas and his men have really been hit hard by the wind crisis since passing South Africa! Fortunately the VAT only amounted to 2.5% in the end, which is the percentage of Groupama 3's deficit in relation to Orange 2's reference time established in 2005... In total then the current balance stands at around 440 miles in the red on this eighteenth day at sea. This Thursday lunchtime the giant trimaran, positioned to the South of the island of Crozet, had finally tracked down a twenty-five knot NW'ly wind, which she had been after for the past three days. With this new system the average speeds have really been given a boost at nearly thirty knots!

"We're happy to have finally tracked down the wind we were expecting so it's pedal to the metal now! We've been making an average of thirty knots since this morning, and though conditions aren't quite stable yet, the speeds are becoming reasonable again... The past few days have been frustrating with this front which could easily have set us free: on three occasions we attempted to traverse it but it didn't work until the fourth attempt. Finally the front came to a halt but we had to bide our time... Right now it's not that cold as we're only at 42° South, though there's quite a bit of rain beneath the front. It's a fairly good sign because it's synonymous with us having escaped this latest obstacle" said Franck Cammas at the 1130 UTC radio link-up with Groupama's Race HQ in Paris, in the company of French news presenter Patrick Poivre d'Arvor.

A `contrary' Indian

Sunset. Image copyright Team Groupama.

Despite a rather uncooperative Atlantic, despite a `contrary' Indian at the start of this crossing, despite a fairly N'ly trajectory which is extending the course in relation to the optimum route (around 55° South, but in the middle of the ice...), Groupama 3 has never racked up as much as a day's deficit during this third attempt at the Jules Verne Trophy. Furthermore, on starting out on this eighteenth day at sea and hence the second third of this round the world course, Franck Cammas and his nine crew aren't having to stand again for a second ballot, quite the contrary in fact! Indeed, the next stage of this `contorted' Indian Ocean promises to be rather clearer: a long straight line towards the tip of Tasmania without many manoeuvres in prospect, save for trimming the sails according to the strength of the NW'ly wind and with a great deal of care at the helm and on the sheets...

"We're going to remain ahead of the front in around twenty knots of NW'ly wind (with some brief spells of thirty-five knots and over) throughout nearly the entire crossing of the Indian Ocean. We'll be able to follow what is almost the perfect trajectory with seas which aren't too hard to negotiate. As such we'll be making an average speed of over thirty knots!"

Sylvain Mondon from Météo France explained that Franck Cammas and his men weren't to put their steed under too much pressure as it would be pointless getting to New Zealand too early: a depression moving across from Australia is currently forming a barrier at the entrance to the Pacific. With less than 16,000 miles to go before reaching Ushant, that is two thirds of the round the world to cover, Groupama 3 still has every chance of making it back in well under fifty days at sea... However, this is also the toughest section for the crew as they will be very exposed to the outside elements aboard their trimaran.

"It's beginning to get very wet: it's important to stow your things away securely and adopt a very methodical attitude. There isn't a great deal of visibility and we can't see a single bird or marine mammal on the horizon! Each of us has our own sleeping bag, but we share the three bunks up forward according to the watches. It's not easy to keep your clothes dry as far as Cape Horn..."

Groupama 3's log (departure on 31st January at 13h 55' 53'' UTC)
Day 1 (1st February 1400 UTC): 500 miles (deficit = 94 miles)
Day 2 (2nd February 1400 UTC): 560 miles (lead = 3.5 miles)
Day 3 (3rd February 1400 UTC): 535 miles (lead = 170 miles)
Day 4 (4th February 1400 UTC): 565 miles (lead = 245 miles)
Day 5 (5th February 1400 UTC): 656 miles (lead = 562 miles)
Day 6 (6th February 1400 UTC): 456 miles (lead = 620 miles)
Day 7 (7th February 1400 UTC): 430 miles (lead = 539 miles)
Day 8 (8th February 1400 UTC): 305 miles (lead = 456 miles)
Day 9 (9th February 1400 UTC): 436 miles (lead = 393 miles)
Day 10 (10th February 1400 UTC): 355 miles (lead = 272 miles)
Day 11 (11th February 1400 UTC): 267 miles (deficit = 30 miles)
Day 12 (12th February 1400 UTC): 247 miles (deficit = 385 miles)
Day 13 (13th February 1400 UTC): 719 miles (deficit = 347 miles)
Day 14 (14th February 1400 UTC): 680 miles (deficit = 288 miles)
Day 15 (15th February 1400 UTC): 651 miles (deficit = 203 miles)
Day 16 (16th February 1400 UTC): 322 miles (deficit = 376 miles)
Day 17 (17th February 1400 UTC): 425 miles (deficit = 338 miles)
Day 18 (18th February 1400 UTC): 362 miles (deficit = 433 miles)

WSSRC record for traversing the Indian Ocean (from Cape Agulhas to Southern Tasmania)
Orange 2 (2005): 9d 11h 04'

Reference time from Cape Agulhas to Cape Leeuwin
Orange 2 (2005): 7d 05h 35'

The record to beat

Currently held by Bruno Peyron on Orange 2 since 2005 with a time of 50 days 16 hours 20 minutes at an average of 17.89 knots. Lionel Lemonchois, Ronan Le Goff and Jacques Caraës were aboard at the time.

Cammas - Groupama

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